The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence -

THE gas­tro­nomic bar has been set high in Osaka. A gate­way to Ky­oto (known for its su­pe­rior veg­eta­bles) and Kobe (a source of ex­cel­lent wagyu beef), it has be­come Ja­pan’s un­of­fi­cial food cap­i­tal. It’s only fit­ting, then, that a visit to this culi­nary mecca, 21/ hours from Tokyo by bul­let train, should in­clude a stay at the RitzCarl­ton Osaka, a lux­ury bolt­hole in the cen­tral busi­ness dis­trict that fea­tures two Miche­lin-starred restau­rants.

With its wood-pan­elled walls, ex­ten­sive art and an­tiques col­lec­tion and clubby down­stairs bar, the 292-room prop­erty re­sem­bles an English no­ble­man’s Ge­or­gian home, but with­out the stuffi­ness. My room, 2611, is a spa­cious oa­sis with a cor­ner win­dow that gives me a bird’s-eye view of the city. My high-school Ja­panese has de­serted me, and I’m ner­vous about din­ing alone in this un­fa­mil­iar me­trop­o­lis but no need to worry as Ritz-Carl­ton Osaka’s concierge team has or­gan­ised a tour guide to es­cort me to some of the city’s gas­tro­nomic hotspots. But re­ally, I need not leave the ho­tel. For the fourth con­sec­u­tive year, its con­tem­po­rary French res­tau­rant La Baie, and Xiang Tao, spe­cial­is­ing in Can­tonese cui­sine, have re­ceived one star each in the Miche­lin Guide to Ky­oto, Osaka, Kobe and Nara (2013 edition just out). More: ritzcarl­ton.com.

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